Trailers have come a long way since the days of voice over narrator Don LaFontaine – who would spell out the setup for a film in plain detail (while a sizzle real of funny moments, explosions, or heartfelt scenes of dramatic tension flashed on screen). These days, moviegoers have become more selective about which films they’ll spring to see on the big screen – and, with rising production costs, studios have resorted to longer trailers that reveal more about their films, in order to woo potential viewers into theater seats.
Instead of preserving the experience for viewers, movie trailers have become increasingly revealing – packed full of eye-popping visual spectacle and story details that spoil major reveals and twists. Which got us thinking. What films have outright spoiled their biggest twists, best moments, or the fate of a main character in trailers?
Here are Screen Rant’s Best Movie Scenes & Twists Spoiled by Trailers
Cast Away (2000):
The Spoiler: Chuck Noland escapes the island, via his raft, and finds rescue.
The Trailer: Despite a dramatic buildup to Noland’s attempted escape, the trailer for the film made it clear that, not only does our hero find rescue, the footage outright shows Noland’s bittersweet reunion with Frears. Whether the reunion is a happy one, or not, is left for filmgoers to discover but Noland and Frears’ relationship status is about the only major plot development that isn’t covered in the trailer.
Dream House (2011):
The Spoiler: Will Atenton is Peter Ward (meaning his wife and daughters are ghosts).
The Trailer: The trailer wastes no time in revealing the film’s biggest twist, that Atenton is a fake identity Ward concocted in psychiatric care – to hide from the tragedy of his family’s murder. While the film isn’t quite as blatant about revealing that his wife and daughter are apparitions (rather than manifestations of his fractured mind), a trailer shot of ghost Libby opening the basement door plays a key part in the movie’s supernatural reveal.
REC (2007)/Quarantine (2008):
The Spoiler: Angela Vidal is dragged away in the final shot of the movie.
The Trailer: While REC (and its American remake Quarantine) borrow heavily from superior zombie/rabies outbreak movies, their trailers still manage to ruin one major surprise – the fate of Angela Vidal (which occurs in the closing moments of the 2007 Spanish film and its 2008 remake). While Quarantine wasn’t the first horror movie to spoil the fate of a main character or use a climactic scene in trailers (we’re looking at you Paranormal Activity), given that Vidal’s screaming face is also plastered on Quarantine’s posters, it’s still a pretty crass and unrepentant marketing move (even by Hollywood’s standards).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014):
The Spoiler: Koba plays ape to play with guns.
The Trailer: While not an outright spoiler, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ trailers put heavy emphasis on several key sequences – that made it clear who would be responsible for violating the human/ape truce. The most egregious example of spoilery Apes marketing was the use of Koba (played Toby Kebbel) placating human enemies with circus-like ape tricks – easily one of the best moments in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Understandably, 20th Century Fox knew that such a clever movie moment would tempt casual viewers into theaters but there’s no doubt that the overall impact of the scene (a significant turning point in Koba’s character arc) was undercut by pre-release previews that, across the board, played the sequence near-shot for shot.
The Avengers (2012):
The Spoiler: Hulk catches powered-down Iron Man in the final battle.
The Trailer: After “killing” Agent Coulson to galvanize the superhero team forward, it was unlikely that another key Avenger would fall in Marvel’s first multi-hero team-up film; yet, director Joss Whedon played-up Tony Stark’s scene of sacrifice as if it were a real possibility that the Avenger might not make it back to Stark Tower (and Pepper Potts) alive. Unfortunately, The Avengers trailer undercut any suspense, since it included a memorable shot of Hulk successfully leaping into the air and catching a powered down Iron Man, sucking any tension out of the film’s climactic moment (at least for anyone who bothered to watch the preview more than once).